I was preparing my monthly Diary Update style blog and a WhatsApp message from James stirred me into action on Thursday evening:
In truth, following staffing issues at the office, I had clean forgotten that I had scheduled an afternoon off probably 2 months ago to attend what was to be a pretty big thing - the first graduation on my side of the family tree - possibly ever.
James had been studying for a while (I thought 3 years, but subsequently found out that it was actually 5 years) for his BA in Engineering with the Open University.
Not only had be passed the Beast, but had done so with Honours.
After hurriedly confirming the time with my supervisor, I put on my smarter clothes and went up to the Barbican Centre in the City of London. I arrived at the Lakeside Terrace at about 13:00 and mooched about until James, his wife Tara and Mum, Jo arrived.
James picked up his rented gown and we had some compulsory photos and he went for his “official” paid for portrait.
There were a lot of gowns milling about and a lot of certificates to give out and applause to give as speeches were given and the long line of graduates walked across the stage with broad smiles - great achievements all.
The Open University is a great body, providing academic possibilities to any one who is ready to put in the time and effort to complete the course work.
It is very humbling to hear the stories of people studying for so long while holding down full or part time jobs, raising families, being a carer for someone or even being in custody on Her Majesty’s Pleasure.
I take my hat off to them, one and all.
This is a hard gig, and as one child being carried while her Mum got her certificate told the Chancellor lady, “It was boring when Mummy was doing her work”.
Without support from spouses, partners, friends and family these achievements would be even harder.
Plaudits to everyone involved.
James says that he is going on to get his Masters in about 3 years, so watch this space.
To say that I am a #ProudDad is an understatement, but these are the simplest words to describe this feeling.
<MORE PHOTOS HERE>